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Paternity Establishment

Having a child is a rewarding and life-changing experience. If you are not married and want the father's name on your child's birth certificate you need to establish paternity. Estabishing paternity is the process where an unmarried biological father becomes the legal father of his child.

Why is establishing paternity so important? Studies show that men who establish paternity at the hospital are more likely to have a relationship with their child. Your child needs love and support from both of you.

If you are both sure he is the biological father of the child and you do not want a DNA test, you can complete a Paternity Acknowledgment at the hospital. The Paternity Acknowledgment is completely voluntary and is the easiest way to establish paternity — plus it's free while at the hospital.

  • Both parents must be present to complete the Paternity Acknowledgment
  • Have a valid government issued picture ID card, and
  • Have their Social Security number (if you are a US citizen)

If the father cannot be present or either of you do not have your ID and/or Social Security number, then the hospital cannot add the father's name to the birth certificate.

Benefits of Paternity Establishment

Paternity helps children

  • Have a relationship with both parents and their extended families
  • Gain the security of knowing that their father cares and is there for them
  • Have knowledge of both families' medical histories
  • Achieve better outcomes
  • Decrease the likelihood of high-risk behavior
  • Have access to health insurance and/or benefits such as Social Security or inheritance

Paternity helps mothers

  • Share the responsibility and rewards of parenthood
  • Share the cost of raising a child

Paternity helps fathers

  • Gain legal rights to their child
  • Show that they are committed to their child
  • Establish an emotional bond with the child and participate in the child's life

If either of you are not 100 percent sure, do not complete the Paternity Acknowledgment. You can get a low-cost DNA test through the South Carolina Department of Social Services after your child is born. You can call the South Carolina Parenting Opportunity Program at 866-914-8786 or go to to find more information.

If you have questions, even before your baby is born, please call the Birth Certificate Clerk at 803-434-2033. You may also call the South Carolina Parenting Opportunity Program toll-free at 866-914-8786.